Dearest Atticus

I wanted to share with everyone who hadn’t met you just how magical you were, but I can’t find the words, or I find more words then necessary as I ramble and ramble on with unnecessary details.  How do I explain how my heart stopped the day yours did? How do I explain how I crumble into tears whenever your name is mentioned? How I find myself looking for you or thinking I need to hurry up to stay on “Atticus’s” schedule?

For 2 years and a month, my whole day & life revolved around caring for you, ensuring you lived a quality life, and loving you through all the silly, difficult, scary moments we shared together. 

How on the day you arrived at my home, I had no idea what I was supposed to do to help you and then we spent that night at the ER due to your stomach being contorted from constipation.  I was afraid I was going to lose you and I had just met you.

In time I learned how to massage your legs, assist you going poop, the importance of belly bands and keeping wipes nearby, how to bath you, hold and carry you, that I needed to monitor your body temperature and watch that you didn’t catch an upper respiratory infection.  You wore your cute little fleece sweaters, toddler tank tops, and slept in a toddler bed with lots of soft blankets, and a pillow to lay your head upon. You would mess the blankets up and burrow under before settling with your paws covering your eyes.

Then at 7 months you chewed the top of a rubber toy off and swallowed it as I tried to pry your mouth open.  We rushed to the ER where the doctor suggested exploratory surgery, but then asked if I really wanted to spend all that money on a crippled dog; wouldn’t euthanasia make more sense. We drove off and another surgeon saved your life.  I cried having to leave you alone and the next day waiting to hear from the hospital, what if I lose you?

We learned how to use your wheelchair and there was no stopping you then.  Zoomed right off the front step, down the sidewalk, across the driveway and motoring quickly to get to the end of the court where the neighborhood kids played.  They loved you as much as you loved them.  They haven’t been by to ask if you could come out to play and I dread the day they do.  I know I will crumble having to explain you are no longer part of our existence. Perhaps their parents have and that is why they haven’t been around.

No puppy who had to fight through Parvo, have their legs taken from them in a moment of anger should have been as loving, and happy as you were.  You had a passion for life like no other.  You brought light to each person you met with your smile, crazy seal bark and sloppy kisses. You were a character through and through.

You surprised everyone with how fast you could run.  The dog with the crippled legs, unable to stand due to his hips giving out was a track star.  You loved to show off in front of people and chase other dogs.  Caught more than one off guard with your swift movements and your wild sins and play bows.

Over the last two years, you learned to come down the stairs on your own.  You loved to swim, and I was so excited that we bought you an 8’ x 15’ pool to swim in this summer. The way you would lay in the sun on the deck made you look golden, like a royal dog ruling from his throne. Boy you loved to swim, it was if you were whole again.

Your love of tomatoes, broccoli, whipped cream, yogurt, cheese, and of course your meals is legendary in our home.  You never let me forget what time it was as you sat by the cabinet barking for me to hurry up and make your dish. You would then run to your eating spot in the dining room and wait for me to bring it to you.  So smart, so demanding, and so stubborn.

You knew your basic commands, although you often had selective hearing. You drove me crazy with the way you would take off your belly band and run round the backyard while I tried to catch you. You smiling and looking over your shoulder and when I would finally catch you, swooping you up, you would settle cradled like a baby in my arms. I got you back because once you were caught the bathtub was calling your name.

I tended to your legs which you banged up as a take no prisoners type of adventure dog.  I feared you would get an infection and lose your legs.  I bathed you every night sometimes and others every other night, I never wanted you develop a rash, infection or not be clean.  When you reached 50lbs, carrying you up three flights of stairs, navigating through gates to reach your bed in my room in one continuous move became a major challenge.  I would tell you that Mama was too old to have a dog like you, someday we would find you a family.  I never really thought you would leave me and I knew in my heart I was kidding myself. You were my boy.

When you did meet interested family’s you ran from them, you barked, you growled and painted yourself in the worst possible light.  How did you know this would be a major turnoff despite your good looks? You were always loving, craved attention from people, until those people might be interested in taking you away.

I smile as I write how you would run up the stairs, then down the hall, through the bedroom door with me holding you by your belly band and wait for me to count. “Uno, dos, tres”, and then you would leap with me holding your belly band and collar into your bed. “Woo-hoo, Atticus the flying dog!”  I would kiss you goodnight, and you would respond in kind, as you burrowed under the blankets, covering your eyes with your paws as I turned out the light.

And, your greatest feat of making Eli love you over time, a true miracle.  From him chasing and growling at the baby pup, to you being his dance partner in play, often with him sitting on you to stop you from running away, to being his afternoon nap buddy.  He misses you; I can see it in his eyes when he goes room to room.  They all miss you.  They howled and howled the night you left us, I am certain you know.

I am sorry I couldn’t save you this time.  I tried.  The vet said you weren’t critical to bring you back the next day.  When I awoke to you panting and seen all the blood around your legs, I was horrified, screaming for help.  I rushed you as fast as I could, blowing off red lights and stop signs, but it was too late. The vet tried to start your heart again, but you had already moved on.

I stayed with you until I could no longer, I hope you heard me tell you how much I loved you and felt my tears on your face as I kissed you one last time.  Today I brought home your ashes, I know you are gone that the body is a vessel for the soul, but atlast I couldn’t bare to not bring you home. You were my sunshine.

People say you are still with me in my heart, but I think my heart stopped in the early morning hours when yours did.  I have stepped away from rescue, the pain is too much. I gave you my all and my worse nightmare came true, I lost you.

My dearest Atticus you were a bright shining star that scorched my heart as you shot through this life. Your journey is one for the ages.  You taught me a whole new love and I am ever grateful that I was your service human.

Give Mama kisses on the cheek tonight, won’t you.

This video is dedicated to the vet who refused to give him puppy shots and suggest euthanasia instead.
To the vet who told me it would be more practical to euthanize him then operate to save his life.
To the vet that lectured me about “what type of quality of life could he possible have, that rescue people want to save them all, but some you have to let go; they aren’t adoptable, who you going to find that will want him?”
To every single ignorant person who questioned why I didn’t euthanize him when I learned he wouldn’t be able to walk.

Atticus and I say you were so wrong!

He had a fantastic life, full of adventure, people, dogs, love, joy and laughter.

Please people don’t shy away from the special needs dogs because you are told it’s “too much”. The operative word is “SPECIAL” and they will fulfill your need for unconditional love.

Atticus and so many other downed dogs are living life large.

All dogs lives matter. Period. Life is precious, preserve, protect and live for every moment.

To the children in the court who played and loved on him as if he was their dog, to Shannon Lief Silva who cared for him when I had to leave town or was sick in bed with covid, (He loved you so much), to Andrea and her daughters who would come to walk him in his Atticusmobile to check out the neighborhood and get fresh air and sunshine, I am ever grateful that you seen the life in his eyes & smile and wanted to befriend him.

To Gail Feick who spent thousands over the two years supporting Atticus’s medical care and loved him from afar. I wish I could have brought him to meet you.

To Jill Egizii thank you for waking me up in the early morning and telling me “to take this puppy”. He was a life changer and a miracle despite me cursing you on days where the poop was “everywhere” because he thought he was funny hopping about the room.

To Erin and Josh, thank you for loving him when he visited and helping Atticus and I find our way.

To each person who supported, donated and loved the little guy, my heartfelt gratitude.

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